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A Connected Student… January 26, 2009

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I just finished watching “A Connected Student” on You Tube and I found it very exciting and truthful as it captures what I think many students today encompass.  I was just yesterday saying to Johnny Mac on a drive down to Lloydminister how I found it interesting how people “communicate” via the social networking site Facebook.  A lot of youth seem to update their lives daily with pics, updates, movies, quizzes, etc.  The “older” generation seems to update it with less frequency.  Perhaps we like the more tried and true forms of communication more.  How many times have you heard colleagues and friends our age or older complain about the complexity of texting and how they would rather simply phone someone.

I had an English teacher back in high school and later on as my supervisor for my teaching degree once tell me that teaching involved 5% knowledge and 95% communicator/entertainer.  He espoused trying to connect with his students on their level and this has always stuck with me.  I do try and communicate on their level (bridging the generational gap that seems to be inherent) with whatever tools I have at my advantage.  Yes I tell the students I have a Wii and an X-Box (old school one).  I do text, I have an mp3 player, and I have ripped music (legally) as well as DVDs.  This to me allows me to communicate on another level with them, making me seem less out of their loop.  However am I as well versed as they are?  No!  I am just a neophyte in their eyes but I believe in trying to communicate with them I am more “human”.  If you just take a moment see where technology has come into our culture; read this paragraph again and see how many words have emerged and taken a whole new context with the advent of computers.

Now how does this relate to the teacher? Are we obsolete with students being able to get information readily in this day and age?  No.  I think teachers are at an exciting time to be able to help students with technology.  I understand that many of us are not as readily comfortable with technology and how to use it, but that does not mean we cannot influence students’ use of it.  As the video points out, do students have the capacity to understand how best to use and evaluate technology?  Do they understand a “good” informational website from a “bad” one?  Do they know some of the legal issues with information?  Etc.  Teachers can pass these skills along to assist students in making smart choices with how best and evaluate emerging technologies.  Teachers will never become obsolete…we simply adapt to the information we teach and how we teach it.  However where do we get the time to adapt?  Within a teacher’s day do we have the time to do this in an ever-increasing workload?

Connectivism… January 24, 2009

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This past week was an interesting lesson in their ideas of connectivism.  I find in amazing since my foray into computers way back in 1995 (with the first computer in Sydney with Windows 95) and the Internet how far we have come.  I find it interesting how much new social network sites change how people network.  Back in 1995 these were hardly mentioned let alone thought of yet.  Now with network sites like Facebook its amazing how connectivism works.  Since joining Facebook about a year and a half ago I have reconnected with people I have not seen since 1985 or earlier.  As an Air Force brat this has been a blessing in connecting with those people from my childhood that I have a lost over time.

With Facebook comes a negative as well as I am swamped with requests from students left, right and centre.  This opens up concerns of professionalism.  However I see at times how something like Facebook, blogs, etc., could be used as a potential tool in order to connect to students on their level.  Perhaps in sharing their “world” with them I can connect in new and exciting ways that will take me further in communicating with them to succeed with learning.

Hopefully within this class I can find that balance in using technology to connect and communicate with students and their parents.  I have since started a blog that will update students/parents on the daily activities that occur in the classroom.  However I feel I could do more to harness this power to an even great extent.  I feel like the apes from the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Looking at the monolith wondering what it is and how it works.  Hopefully once I begin to understand Hal won’t toss me out the airlock.